With the Colin Trevorrow’s departure as director of Star Wars Episode IX, it’s clear that Lucasfilm has a serious problem on its hands.
It’s easy to say Lucasfilm is at fault for the recent departures from various Star Wars projects, but I think there is a deeper issue at work here: They’re hiring fan boys.
Due to the Star Wars property being 40 years old now, it’s easy to hire someone who has grown up with these stories as a major part of their lives. They’ve had time – just as I did – to do nothing but think about what they would have done with a Star Wars story. They more than likely played with action figures and made up their own adventures. They probably read the old version of the expanded universe. They are more than likely coming into these projects with pre-conceived notions of what they think a Star Wars story is, and it is not matching up with what the reality is.
These directors are being handed the keys to the candy shop and being told they have to play by a certain set of rules and within certain constraints, and it’s not working on some level.
As much as I love Star Wars, there is a certain ‘paint-by-numbers’ element to them. We know that someone is going to say, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.” We know there is a high probability of someone losing a limb. And we also know that everything will ramp up to a giant battle at the end of the film. There are other elements as well, but you have to work with those mile markers in mind and you have to find a way to reach them.
How are these directors even getting their foot in the door? How did Lord and Miller not let it be known they wanted to do an improv-style for Han Solo? How did Trevorrow not have to spell out exactly what he had planned? If this was truly a script level issue, it should have come out in his pitch meeting as he should have walked Lucasfilm through his concept beat by beat.
While it’s exciting to see new talent coming in to work on these films, it’s fairly clear now that Lucasfilm is going to have to stick to known factors. What do I mean? People who have successfully worked on a Star Wars property already.
As it stands, J.J. Abrams and Gareth Edwards are the only people who have successfully released Star Wars films. Rumors are thick that Edwards did not do a great job and a lot of reshoots happened on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story because of it, so it seems unlikely he would be asked back.
Ron Howard is busy wrapping up Han Solo, and therefore has no time for pre-production.
Rian Johnson is in the same boat wrapping up The Last Jedi.
This really only leaves J.J. Abrams as an option, and he’s honestly the only one who makes sense at this juncture.
Am I saying that no one new can ever be brought in? Not even close. But as Episode IX wraps up the current trilogy, this needs to be solved quickly. Lucasfilm cannot withstand another delay or the PR headaches of yet another director being fired or departing. For this one film, the company needs to stick with someone it knows it can work with, someone who realizes they have to color inside the lines.
After Episode IX, throw the doors wide open, bring in fresh blood and new talents. Let them run wild in the ‘A Star Wars Story’ films, but when it comes to the Skywalker saga you had better come in expecting to play by the established rules.